Soham (Sanskrit)

Soham (Sanskrit)

"So 'hamn" ("IAST|so 'hamn" _sa. सो ऽहम्) is the Sanskrit for "I myself" or "It is I". It is used as a mantra.

Hindu saints and gurus [Among them Swami Muktananda, in "I Am That: The Science of Hamsa from the Vijnana Bhairava", Siddha Yoga Publications, 1992.] state that one can attain moksha, or mukti (release) or liberation from the cycle of life and death by focusing attention on the natural breath (without forcing it) and inwardly listening to the sound "hamn" (pronounced hum) while inhaling and to the sound "so" (pronounced saw) while exhaling. By doing so, one can transcend the mind and attain the turya state. This dharana is aluded to in the verse 24 of the "Vijnana Bhairava".


"IAST|so 'ham" is the sandhi form of "IAST|saḥ + aham", the nominatives of the 3rd and 1st person singular pronouns. "IAST|saḥ" can be prefixed to other pronouns for emphasis, as in "IAST|so 'ham" "I myself; I, that very person" or "IAST|satvam" "Thou thyself; Thou, that very person", but in a literal reading, the phrase means "That - I" or "He - I", in mystical interpretations suggesting the identification or dissolution of the Ego with the "Other": "That I Am". "IAST|so 'ham" is the same as the mantra "hamsa" ["Ham" with the exhalation and "sa" with the inhalation.] ("I Am That").


When the "I" merges with the "That", the ego of the "I" identity merges with the Other, who is Ishvara of the Vedas, Brahman of the Upanishads, Bhagavan of the Puranas.

"Sa" in Sanskrit is the combination of the "lifeless" (or, static) consonant S with the dynamic vowel A – that is, with the meaning of Prana or vital force. Also Sa is Vishnu and Shiva according to the Vedic Nirukta. The Sandhi means Yoga (union) or self realization.

The meaning of the phrase might be expressed as follows: "I" am obviously not this body because the physical constituents of the body are changing every moment. Ultimately, the body dies. Atman the soul or self never dies – it is "That". "That" is Absolute Reality. It is the witness of all, it is what the mind does through the body. This self is always on the path of progression, which according to Shaivistic thought is Chaitanya or consciousness. The Shiva Sutra speaks of ‘Chaitanyam – Atma’. Consequently, Aham, myself, is Sah, that Self. This is called spiritual awareness.


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